Local Listings: Your best bet at trumping Google

Posted on 06/02/2019 by Andrew Sanderson

So. That pesky tap is leaking again. The plumber you normally call is out of town, or maybe you just moved to a new area? Either way you’re going to have to find someone to fix it before the damage done is irreparable. Lets breakdown what the Google search query returns and why.

The Advertisers Bread & Butter

The first thing a searcher finds when looking for a plumber is the paid Ads identifiable by their “Ad” text below the header.

To be found using a cost-per-click estimator we can see that the keyword “plumber near me” where we are will set you back roughly $38 a click. An expensive venture especially if your website isn’t converting those clicks to actual business. Even then, the percentage of people clicking paid ads is on the downturn and the pitfalls of the Ads system can be costly if undertaken by those without an apt amount of experience. Still, not a bad way to get business but you’ll constantly be paying upkeep costs so is there a more efficient way to get on the front page for your service?

Location, Location, Location

Let’s look at what’s next down the list:

This is the Local Pack. Maybe the holy grail of local searching. No doubt you’ve seen this many times before. Whether browsing for somewhere to grab a bite, for a local tradesman, or even for a nice place to walk the dog. It’s presence on that front page is inescapable. Despite being launched over 5 years ago, commercial interest in this system has quadrupled since it’s release with trends peaking in 2019. The available data all points towards local listing optimisations being the future of this market.

Using the numerous factors available on Google’s platform their system has determined that these four particular listings are the most relevant to the search query.

The first listing appearing on the local pack has been synchronised with Google Ads, highlighted by the “Ad” indicator below the title. This is done to achieve greater overall results and, while effective, it's still technically a pay-per-result method.

100% Farm Fresh, Organic SEO

Next down the list we have the three most relevant organic results according to the search query.

Want to know how much they likely paid to be there? Not. A. Cent. Yes, you can have your web designer or SEO specialists optimise your listing to get you there, which might set you back a few coins but the actual cost per click in this position is nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. This means that once you’re up there no amount of money your competitors throw at an Ad campaign will usurp your position as long as you stay relevant to the search criteria. Considering that 44% of searchers will be utilising this local pack when looking for a service with 28% of people making purchases that same day, getting work done on your Google My Business listing is currently the best investment you’ll make in the digital marketplace.

The Google My Business system itself also boasts a number of nifty features for all it’s users. Aligning itself between a geographical listing and a social-business medium this hybrid listing genuinely works. From posts to update your customers, to a comprehensive product/service catalogue, standardised contact information, a variety of media, and much more. The system is the veritable Swiss army knife of local listings and best of all it’s completely free.

Inevitably there has to be a trade-off. Being currently free means that the Google My Business system can be a minefield of terms, conditions and policies that if breached can result in suspension or impairment of your listing. This system, built to control spam, can in fact impair your average user. Not to mention that, as the platform is free, Google hasn’t really invested much time nor thought into the systems customer support making them notoriously difficult to deal with. Lastly, if you don’t have the know-how to get in the top three for your local service then only 8% of traffic will actually bother to click “more businesses”, where you’ll likely end up in competitive markets. However, if you can achieve that pinnacle of local SEO, the local pack top 3, the results can be phenomenal.

When under-taking the optimisation of Google My Business listing for our clients we’ve been able to generate, on average, 10 times the traffic to a listing over a 6-month period and generally many leads per month. An effect we’ve seen more effective where local pack ranking is achieved.

If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It!

Below the local pack we finally get to the organic website results.

SEO was a buzzword about 5 years ago, despite having existed for years before that. Getting your site ‘SEO optimised’ was great and still is. If done correctly your site could rank 1st on Google for your keywords and yet you’d still be below this aforementioned local pack. So is it worth it? In short, yes. While a Google My Business listing is brilliant, as a standalone, it’s only so effective. Having both a functioning site and an optimised listing will allow them to work in tandem as a variety of the ranking factors for the Google My Business listings are pulled from content on your site. Your website is also a more versatile hub for all of your digital assets as opposed to being limited to the structure set out by Google. That being said the listing is the perfect starting point in the digital space for a lot of sectors but it can be argued that it’s uses might not be best suited to every industry. While true, the point could be made that having a professional looking Google My Business listing could be the deciding factor for customers on the fence about employing your service.

If you’re interested in getting ahead of the game you can read about our optimisation service here if you’re interested in having your listing created and optimised. The most affordable digital marketing on the web.

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